The Falcons took a calculated-medical risk in signing cornerback Kelvin Hayden, who with a neck injury, was having trouble passing some team’s physical examinations.
Before signing with the Falcons on Thursday, he’d visited seven or eight teams, including Kansas City, Carolina, Chicago, Minnesota and Washington.
The Falcons, have taken calculated-medical risks on in the past on Coy Wire and Kevin Mathis, as both had neck injuries. They were comfortable with Hayden’s neck because there is new technology that can better analyze those injuries, general manager Thomas Dimitroff said.
Hayden missed the last four games of the 2010 season with a neck injury. It is not known how many of the teams he visited flunk him on his physical exams.
“My neck is fine,” Hayden said. “It’s something that everybody was questioning. I’m just glad the Atlanta Falcons gave me an opportunity. I’m just excited to get out there and have some fun. I want to show that I can still play.”
Hayden has not played in all 16 games since the 2007 season. In 2009, he missed seven games with a hamstring injury. In 2008, he missed six games with a knee injury.
“To miss that amount of time and to know that you’re not out there with your boys that you grind with, week-in and week-out, that’s the tough part,” Hayden said. “You can’t look back. All I’m thinking about is this season. Hopefully, I’ll be out there for the whole 16 and even [three] or [four] for the playoffs.”
Earlier in his career in Indianapolis, the Colts played mostly cover-two zones. But the last two seasons, they have mixed up their defenses.
Hayden played mostly on the left side and has played some nickel back. The Falcons have an opening at nickel back, where Christopher Owens, Dominique Franks and Rafael Bush were competing for action. Brent Grimes plays left cornerback, so look for Hayden to be in the mix for the nickel back spot.
“We haven’t discussed anything like that,” Hayden said. “Like I said, I’m taking it day by day. I’m here to contribute the best way that I can. If it’s the nickel or where ever they want me at, I’m here to play football.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog